Cal Ripken on talking about the Nats job with Mike Rizzo

January 30, 2014

(Nick Wass/AP)

Certainly, there are some Nats fans who are 100 percent done with anything linking Cal Ripken to the Nationals.

And certainly, the amount of media buzz created by extremely minute hints about Ripken’s interest in the Nats’ managerial job last fall turned out to be a bit silly in retrospect. He was kind of the Art Briles of the Nats’ job search.

But in a recent appearance with ESPN 980’s Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro, Ripken again seemed to indicate that this wasn’t a completely made-up story.

This was his answer when Sheehan asked if he was ever a legitimate candidate for the Nats’ opening.

“You can’t define it as a legit candidate,” Ripken said. “Certainly there was an exploration and some conversation about it very early. I came down to a couple Nationals games for different reasons, and the conversation between me and Mike Rizzo, he jokingly said he’s got to replace a manager. So I said, who’s your candidates? And he said, well how about you? And so we kind of explored it on a surface level, but it never got to a serious consideration.”

Why not?

“Um, I think the life that I’m in right now, maybe the timing is that I can’t put that behind me yet and move over,” Ripken explained. “So it’s a little bit more complicated than saying, hey, you want a job, we think you’re capable and this would be fun. You have to unwind some things to start anew. So the kids’ business right now that I’m in, it’s in a growth phase, a growth period, where we’re looking to grow a couple models that are very successful. And how do we do that across the country? We’re developing strategies for that. I could develop a strategy that would give me a little bit more time, or I could develop a strategy that would put me in a little deeper. I’m making those considerations right now.”

Ripken agreed with the hosts that his return to a baseball job in this area would have been kind of a big deal.

“It would have been a lot of stuff going on there, quite frankly,” he said. “First managing job, being in a different uniform, being right down the street from where I used to do business all those years. So it kind of provoked a big response within the media and from within the fanbase. But when I look back on it, it’s a stage of my life where I am considering other things. And if I was to come back with baseball, I think it would have to be within a relatively short period of time. I’m 53 years old; you wait a few more years, wait four or five years and don’t explore any opportunities, then you’re pretty much gonna stay away from the game. At least that’s my thinking.”

Regardless, he had kind words for Matt Williams, a contemporary and the man who eventually landed that job.

“Oh I like Matty a lot,” Ripken said. “I enjoyed getting to know him and playing against him. He was one of those thinking sort of players. He didn’t just play the position and react to the ball; there was a lot that was going on before that happened. And he’s the type of player I think that would make a good manager, because you need to think about all aspects of the game. … The type of player that Matty is, he kind of reminds me of a good catcher that actually is controlling the game in many ways. He did that from his position of third base. So thinking about all the things I know about him, he’s got the potential to be a really good manager.”

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.
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